Skip to comments.Are we willing to pay the financial cost of Faith….or not? What's answer say about what we value?
Posted on 09/16/2013 11:56:33 AM PDT by NYer
There is an interesting, albeit at times concerning, article over at Marketwatch.com that reports the simple fact that being a member of a believing community “costs” you something. And while the article is directed to a Jewish context, its implications reach all of us who believe and belong to the Church.
Underlying the article and those it interviews is a not so subtle premise that it is somehow wrong for faith to “cost” much. Never mind that just about anything in life costs something, involves tradeoffs and that the things we value are often where we chose to spend more. Somehow the implication of the article is that faith should be free, or less demanding financially.
Here are few excerpts from the article by Charles Passay with commentary from me in red and more substantial comments. The full article is here: The Financial Cost of Religious Faith
With the onset of Yom Kippur this evening, Jews will begin a day of fasting, prayer and reflection all key parts of this holiest of holy days on the religions calendar. But this Day of Atonement often comes with another ritual of sorts namely, a pitch from synagogue leaders for contributions….[It] may strike some as distasteful, but it underscores the reality that faith of any kind Judaism, Christianity, Islam often has a literal price. Houses of worship solicit donations in order to pay the bills…..
True enough, there are real costs to maintaining buildings and staffs related to houses of worship. But why should it be any more “distasteful” that a house of worship has costs and bills than say, a public school, a local recreation facility or city stadium, such that we are taxed to pay for their upkeep? The simple fact is that things we value have costs that need to be covered, churches are no different except that we are not forced to pay for them like the government does with taxes.
Beyond such fees, various religious practices, from adhering to certain dietary laws to avoiding certain types of investments, also have costs associated with them….The Jewish practice of keeping kosher that is, adhering to a way of eating in which meats have been butchered and prepared a certain way, among other dietary matters can translate into a 20% increase in a familys food costs, according to one study….Some of the faithful say the financial burden has become harder to bear, especially in light of the slumping economy of late.
But again, it also costs money to go to a football game (often a LOT of money). And that money could be spent elsewhere too. But for people who value football, it is (apparently) a price they are willing to pay, along the the “privileges” of standing in long lines, sitting out in the cold rain on some game days, and paying 15 dollars for a tiny beer and hotdog. But people line up for it.
It’s about what people value. If I value my faith I accept that there are going to be some costs and inconveniences associated with it. If I want to keep my beautiful church open and in good repair, I accept that I will be asked to contribute to that, and will not have that money to spend on a movie or something else. If I want to be a true Christian, I am going to be generous to the poor and needy, and that means I can’t spend my money of some other things.
But If I love God, I value what he values and I want to do it. It’s called tradeoffs, and most people make them everyday for things they value. For Jewish people Kosher is important, and like anything important, it has some costs and tradeoffs associated with it. Welcome to life, filled with tradeoffs and with the need to decide what you value most. You can’t have it all, and almost none of it is free.
I wish it wasnt so expensive, says Judy Safern, a Jewish resident of Dallas who runs a strategic consulting firm. In the past couple of years, Safern has cut back on what might be dubbed her religion budget, pulling her two children out of a Jewish day school in favor of a public one (a savings of $16,000) and foregoing membership to her local synagogue (a savings of $1,800). Saferns hope is that she can maintain her faith without emptying her pocketbook. I refuse to continue to be squeezed, she adds.
While it is true that all of us might “wish” that things weren’t expensive, insisting on such wishes is not really a sign of maturity. A football fan might wish that the tickets in the nosebleed section behind the pillar weren’t $450 a piece, but (mysteriously) that is what the market will bear and he has to decide to pay it or not, whatever he wishes were not the case.
It is a worthy consideration, as Ms. Safern implies, to ponder if every expense is necessary. But at the end of the day faith does have costs in time, treasure, and tradeoffs. Does she value her faith so as to bear this cost…or not? From her remarks it seems doubtful that she values her faith much, since the “cost” is not worth it.
Regardless of the religion, Safern is far from alone in expressing such sentiments….A 2012 study by the Barna Group, a market research firm, found that 33% of Protestants and 41% of Catholics had reduced their contributions to churches or religious centers because of the economy….. Actually, Barna Group Vice President Clint Jenkin says it may be more than just the economy at play. He argues that a new generation of the faithful sees religion in an entirely different and decidedly isolationist way. Faith is becoming much more something you do privately rather than something at an institution, he says.
Exactly. Money and other resources are ultimately about what we value and what we do not value. The complaint about cost is not really all that much about money, it is about faith, it is about what we value. Many have devalued faith and decided that it isn’t “worth” much.
And, as the article suggests, one can try and reinvent the faith into a “private” matter. But at the end of the day it is clear that the driving force behind most theological syncretism and designer religion is not deep faith at all. It is about making faith less demanding, less costly, more convenient, more about “me” and what pleases me.
A few concluding thoughts. At one level, faith need not cost much at all. We could just meet in a local park on Sundays, expect that clergy be volunteer, and that very few implements such as books, bread and wine, candles, etc be used. But of course such an attitude seems foreign to people who value their faith more than that.
Traditionally it has been the instinct of the faithful to honor their belief with substantial buildings, and dignified implements. Further, since the faith is something weighty, the faithful do not simply depend on rookies or volunteer clergy for the most central matters of teaching the faith and leading the faithful in worship and governance. Rather, given the respect due to Holy Faith, clergy are expected by the faithful to be well trained. (I spent five years of post graduate and attained to two Master’s Degrees, then spent almost ten years in the internship of being a vicar rather than a pastor). This is par for the course and, yes, its costs money. But this is the instinct of the faithful.
So, faith, just like everything else we value does cost. And while there are legitimate discussions to be had about whether every cost is necessary, at the end of the day it is going to cost. If you want to find out what people value, find out what they spend their money and time on. In our increasingly secular and faithless world, many (including some believers) lament what faith “costs” even as we spend exorbitantly on many other things.
As I write this, it is a Sunday afternoon and quite literally billions of dollars and millions of hours have been spent today in an obsession known as “football,” a game having to do with the movement of a bag full of air on a field. Some fans (short for fanatic) spend as much as four to eight hours glued to the screen, or in loud uncomfortable stadiums. Hundreds of dollars are spent on tickets or parties. And yet many of these same people scoff at the “cost” of a Mass that lasts more than an hour, and would, if they went at all, consider themselves generous contributors if they put five or ten dollars in the basket.
Yes, Sunday is a day of great contrast.
What should faith cost? It is clear that the answer to this is for us to decide.
In the end however, the “lament” of the cost of faith reported in the article above is not about the money. It is about faith and what we really value. Everything “costs” it’s just what you decide to spend your money on that reveals what you most value. Do you value the faith? You decide, and you show it by what you are willing to pay. Where a person’s money and time is, there is their heart.
Video: the immigrants to this country were poor. But they combined nickels and dimes to build beautiful churches. Why? I suspect because they valued their faith and thought the cost to be worth it.
God does not need our money, time or talents. His perfect will is accomplished without any contribution on man’s part.
However, a christian with a transformed heart sees that every part of his life belongs to God. Our money, our talents and our time here is all God’s.
So how do we look on something that is a cost when everything we receive is a gift from God?
This is a sarcasm thread, right? Look at the conspicuous wealth of the Roman CC and you cannot ask this question with a straight face.
If one things the Church has too much wealth, the Christian is still not off the hook as long as the following verses are relevant:
31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
37 Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
40 The King will reply, Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
41 Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.
44 They also will answer, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?
45 He will reply, Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.
46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
I would say this “transformed heart” must exist outside of a a vacuum, and beyond the prayer closet. Love is visible and sacrificial.
If, for example, it isn’t seen, does it exist?
God was seen and heard to give a Command or two, which means we are called to exhibit meaningful and visible obedience. Our obedience is our witness. It always costs something, because loving God is not without value.
Something that cost nothing is valueless to both the giver and the receiver.
If God is giving me my daily bread won't he give me enough to share with the poor? The portion I receive is not my bread to begin with.
I know, and just look at how conspicuous God was with all those exacting and elaborate commands for His tabernacle and His specs just for His temple (not to mention the those precious metal “statues” and all). And the nerve, to actually designate a particular tribe for the priesthood, and then all those priceless gems and stones to be sewn onto those priestly robes. It is outrageous,!
God’s commands can be so so over the top and conspicuous.
I have been doing business with a big name camera store in NY. Owned and managed by Orthodox Jewish people. (I’m not.) They respect the Jewish calender and Sabbath times. It has never been a problem to do business with them and I respect them for sticking to their principals.
Chic-Fil-A reports no loss of business for Sunday Closings.
Not if you don’t give it. Does your daily bread mean anything to you? Chances are that it does mean something to you, and you are thankful. Thanksgiving to God for your bread is a gesture of our love for Him, and that love was a choice. It made you a Christian.
Well, you have this part of the post right. The rest displays a bad case of successionalism. The believers in Jesus are not a replacement for Israel, the nation. But, even if we were, read Paul's letter to the Hebrews (and Romans and Galatians) and you will notice that all the trappings of the Law are gone.
The position you take, however, displays the error of sacerdotalism, papalism, absolution, sacraments, confession and a whole host of Roman errors. None of this is part of the New Covenant of grace in Jesus, through faith infused by God in the elect chosen before the foundation of the world. You may wish to read the Book your organization pretends to have delivered to the world. They don't even follow it themselves.
Garghlgag. Limited is as limited does.
Now, off with you, to resume your intellectual preening exercise in the confines of your theological limited universe.
Let us each be known by our God for our fruits, and tremble. There is a place for we arrogant and self righteous, thought wise in our own eyes.
The provision for worship in the initial tent of meeting was not done with the law. They were willing heart offerings:
Exodus 35:20 Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses presence, 21 and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments.
Further, God had provided them with what was needed to supply his request
Exodus 12: The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
Hebrews is actually addressing one main point: How can we keep the Torah if the Temple is destroyed? The answer is that the Scriptures always prophesied another priesthood which, though superior in many respects, is distinct from the Levitical priesthood. The Levitical priesthood serves the copy, while the priest like Melkizedek serves in the Heavenly Temple. While it is impossible at present to carry out the earthly sacrifices, those have been covered for us by a superior Sacrifice. Therefore, those elements of Torah which don't require an earthly Temple (such as the Sabbath) may still be carried out--and should be (Heb. 4:9-10).
This doesn't negate Galatians, of course. In Galatians, Paul is telling Gentiles that they don't have to become Jews in order to take part in the Covenant. In Hebrews, he (or one of his disciples) is dealing with a purely Jewish issue. Sadly, failure to understand the distinct issues has resulted in the Church presenting as false a gospel to the Jews as the Judaizers presented to the Gentiles: "You can be saved if you believe in Jesus Christ . . . and stop being Jewish (i.e., keeping Torah)!"
Having said all that, back to the core issue in the article: Yes, it is right that houses of worship be supported, and even be beautiful. Yes, it is true that the refusal to put one's money where one's mouth is in regards to faith is an endemic problem in our culture.
On the other hand, how many priests, ministers, and rabbis who currently draw a salary from their assemblies would be willing to put their money where their mouths are and build tents for a living? And how many assemblies misuse their parishoner's money and build up material goods for themselves to an excessive degree?
There are two sides to this problem, and both need to be dealt with.
**As I write this, it is a Sunday afternoon and quite literally billions of dollars and millions of hours have been spent today in an obsession known as football, a game having to do with the movement of a bag full of air on a field.**
To me, sometimes, it seems that people value sports and life-style rather than God.
The Catholic Church isn’t really wealthy. There were figures on one thread about just meeting the expenses. That should be the case for all congregations.
**Chic-Fil-A reports no loss of business for Sunday Closings.**
Good point. Remember when all the stores were closed on Sunday, except for the drugstore and grocery store?
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Of course, the homemade (and unlimited) theology of Rome allows for every made-up concept which a group fancies. They end up with indulgences, genuflecting, rosaries, candles, icons, and a host of other extra-biblical contraptions. Again, none of it advisable, but all of enjoyed by those who love "religion". We invite you to consider Jesus, alone, by grace through faith...if you are among the elect.
Not so, my FRiend. The Mosaic Law was given in Ex. 20 and included the provisions for a tabernacle whose specific and demanding details were not optional. Gifting levels may have been optional, but the demand was there.
But, when the New Covenant came, everything changed. The first agreement (temporary as it was) came at Mt. Sinai. And, it intentionally was full of sound and fury. Judgment, requirement, law was to drive the Jews to ask for mercy. That Mt. is gone.
18 For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. 20 For they could not bear the command, If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned. 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I am full of fear and trembling.
The New Covenant is out of Mt. Zion, and full of grace (Jer. 31:31ff). It is here to stay...for those called.
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of [h]angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
The Law is gone. Grace has come.
The value of the Law is to convict one of his brokenness, but not to give them life (I Tim. 1:8ff, Gal. 3).
The tent of meeting was different. Please read again.
Sorry, my FRiend. You have not read the entire story. Paul's letter to the Hebrews is about the superiority of Jesus, the Lamb provided by God, to all of the sacrificial activities involving bulls and goats. Jesus is superior to the High Priest order, as Melchizadek pre-dated and is thus superior to Levi. Jesus is the end-all of the Law and Paul's argument is for believing Jews to resist the pressure of the community to return to that Law. They are to pay attention to this important change, lest they "slide right by" it the way the Jews in general have.
Once grace has come, the Law's work as a tutor is done.
Galatians 2 & 3 addresses your misunderstanding. It has actually always been "faith" infused in believers...not legal requirements. Here is 3 in total:
[a]You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of [b]the Law, or by [c]hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun [d]by the Spirit, are you now [e]being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you [f]suffer so many things in vainif indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works [g]miracles among you, do it by the works of [h]the Law, or by [i]hearing with faith?
6 [j]Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, [k]be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God [l]would justify the [m]Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed in you. 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with [n]Abraham, the believer.
10 For as many as are of the works of [o]the Law are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them. 11 Now that no one is justified [p]by [q]the Law before God is evident; for, [r]The righteous man shall live by faith. 12 [s]However, the Law is not [t]of faith; on the contrary, He who practices them shall live [u]by them. 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for usfor it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a [v]tree 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might [w]come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Intent of the Law
15 Brethren, I speak [x]in terms of human relations: even though it is only a mans [y]covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds [z]conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, And to seeds, as referring to many, but rather to one, And to your seed, that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is [aa]based on law, it is no longer [ab]based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.
19 Why the Law then? It was added [ac]because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the [ad]agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not [ae]for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness [af]would indeed have been [ag]based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up [ah]everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a [ai]tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is [aj]neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you [ak]belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams [al]descendants, heirs according to promise.
Check Acts 15 and the argument about whether circumcision should be includable to Gentiles. Even Peter said, "We Jews have never actually accomplished the Law anyway (neither us, nor our ancestors), why put this upon the Gentiles?"
No additional circumcision was ever advocated for a Jew by Paul. It does not negate their identity (descendants of A, I, J), but it does stop the incorrect understanding that "works" rescues a man.
And, the "building" thing is a fabrication of traditions, not the New Covenant. Find support for it in the Epistles and we're listening.
The tent of meeting was a temporary tabernacle.
Beautiful. Thank you!
Let us all know when you find Him. For the time being, let me kiss you off. Time for you to return to your mirror and reflect yourself, fairest of all.
Happy landing to you, too.
I started to write out a long response to the rest of your post, but before I get into TL;DR territory here, let me ask you a single, simple question: Is it honestly your intent to argue that God sent the King of the Jews to the Jewish people, having prophesied of Him by Jewish prophets in the Jewish language, and then sending out Jewish apostles first to the Jew and only then to the Gentile, to tell Jews to stop being Jewish?
Okay, this may be one of the most shocking statements I have read on FR. When Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah from Israel, the Lamb of God, One of the Triunity God of Heaven is likened to a backhoe, there is nothing left to say. We have no discussion here, my FRiend.
More importantly, that we be found by Him. The Gospel is God reaching to lost men/women, undeserving (no, worse, deserving death), and granting them grace, infusing them with faith to trust in the Messiah of Israel, alone. No accoutrements, no additions, no anything but Him. I'll consider myself kissed off. However, when that day arrives, recall that we spoke of this Gospel of grace.
Nobody ever suggested that anyone tell the first Jews to stop being Jewish.
That’s just ludicrous.
The Levitical priesthood is no longer needed as Jesus, the final, perfect sacrifice obtained forgiveness for all men for all time.
The whole purpose of the Law was to point to Christ. It never was intended as a means by which people could be saved.
Okay, second question: Do you honestly believe that you can separate "being Jewish" from the "trappings" of the Torah? Take the Levitical temple service off the table for the moment. Do you believe that you separate Jewish culture from circumcision, the Sabbath, the Feasts, kashrut, etc.?
>> “The Levitical priesthood is no longer needed as Jesus, the final, perfect sacrifice obtained forgiveness for all men for all time.” <<
The Prophets Ezekiel, and John, writer of the Revelation. both indicate that it is not so. Yeshua will build the Millenial Temple when he returns, and the ‘nations’ will be required to “come up” to Jerusalem for the feasts (yes, the feasts are for all of the nations).
For the nations that do not, there will be no rain.
Those for whom Yeshua’s perfect sacrifice has been effective in the first 6 millenia will be resurrected “at the last trump” to meet him on the sea of fire and glass. They will be with him in his triumphful return to Earth.
That fact does not cancel a single sentence of Yehova’s prophets.
The “law” has several purposes, depending on who you are.
For his elect, it is written on their hearts, and they delight in pleasing Yehova through their obedience. Yeshua gave us the key to his Torah, and it is based in love for Yehova, and for his sheep.
For the rest it is an accusation unto the second death, as they despise Yehova, and his law is anathema to them.
Yeshua meant every word he spoke during his 70 week ministry on Earth. Do not parse his message, saving only the pleasing parts.
Hebrews 11:11-14 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
How exactly does that not come right back to saying that a Jewish Messiah came to stop Jews from being Jewish?
Are you saying that Paul called Ezekiel a false prophet?
You’re just not reading what Paul is saying. There is far more than covering sins. Yeshua told us that we are to follow his commandments, and that he who breaks a commandment, or teaches another to break one will be least in the kingdom.
Are you running for “Least in the kingdom?”
Do you feel no desire to be obedient?
The verses that you posted do not address the issue that you wrestle with.
I think that you're headed in the right direction with that question.
The Roman Catholic church was founded in rejection of the worship that Yehova presented at Sinai, and sent his son to fulfill.
The Way leaves no room for the catholic pagan priesthood, or praying to dead humans, or statues of Zeus renamed Peter, and those that have come out of that mess just can't seem to adjust to the position that has been prophesied for Israel, as the spiritual leaders of the millennial kingdom.
Many Calvinists also retain Rome's antisemitism.
If someone wants to say, "Hey, I'm a Gentile, so under Galatians I don't have to keep the ceremonial laws," I'm fine with that. My objection is telling Jews that they're supposed to stop living as Jews in order to be saved under the Gospel.
Mostly true, but under Galatians, all that anyone is free from is the Takanot and Ma’assim, not the Torah that Yeshua promised that he would not alter untill all is accomplished.
Nobody has to obey, but if one loves Yehova, why would they not wish to obey his commandments? Quite a conflict there.
So my read is basically that the Gentile Christians were being told that they could only have a covenant relationship with Hashem if they joined the Sinaic Covenant by becoming circumcised as Jews. This would of course entail not only keeping the Biblical commandments but coming under Jewish authority so as to make them liable to the Mishnah (in it's oral form, of course). Paul's objection was both that this would, if allowed to spread, negate the promise that all nations would be saved as Gentiles, but also that Israel had broken the Sinaic Covenant 700 years earlier and was now suffering under the curse clause of Deu. 27-28 (which Paul twice cites in Galatians). That curse twice specifies that Israel would be subject to not only the nations, but also their gods, which is why Paul connects the idea of Gentiles being subject to the old covenant to their being enslaved again by their old gods.
However, outside of circumcision, Paul didn't object to Gentiles keeping the Sabbaths and Feasts. Clearly, the expectation was that Gentiles would do so, as we see, for example, in 1Co. 5. His objection was that anyone should depend on such observances rather than depending on their faith in and faithfulness to the God of Abraham and His Messiah.
Now I of course agree completely that our attitude to God's commandments should be, "I get to do that? Awesome!" instead of "How can I get out of this?" Nevertheless, there is a case to be made that just as there are special commandments that apply only to priests, men, women, farmers, shepherds, Nazrites, etc. that there are certain commandments that are only requirements for Jews. Circumcision is clearly one such.
If someone wants to make the argument that they as a Gentile Christian are not bound to keep the Sabbath or the Feasts and they make a cogent Biblical argument for it, I'm fine with that. We can argue it back and forth intellectually for the sake of edification, but I don't have a problem with someone who is clearly wrestling with God's Word and has simply come to a different conclusion on a relatively minor issue. My objection is when Christians then decree that nobody should keep the commands that they themselves don't, and in the process tell Jews that they must cease to be Jewish in order to be saved. That is, in my opinion, just as much a matter of legalism as the reverse and also presents a clearly false "gospel" to the Jewish people.
Again, mostly agree, but the nonsense that I keep seeing is that “Torah has been cancelled by the perfect sacrifice at the cross” or something close to that, which is in complete disagreement with every word recorded in the gospels as coming from the mouth of Yeshua.
There's another cliche that we have to be aware of and be dillegent to overcome, and that is the idea that anyone who keeps the Sabbath, Feasts, kashrut, etc., does so in order to be saved "by the law" instead of trusting in "grace." This is why I take a personal demand against Gentile Christians (Jewish Christians are another matter) off the table and rephrase the argument: "So you're saying that God sent the King of the Jews to tell Jews to stop being Jewish?"
Most Christians that I get a chance to speak to are rightly horrified that this is the practical implication of what they've always assumed about the NT. They're not antisemitic; in fact, most true Christians love the Jews, even if only abstractly. They just never considered how their understanding of the NT plays out in that regard.
We surely don’t want to lose our right to eat bacon, and worship Tammuz on 12/25, and Ishtar and the lovely rabbit eggs...
As far as holidays go, no Christian is worshiping Tammuz or Ishtar. They repurposed holidays within their own Greco-Roman culture as evangelistic tools, and the tradition stuck. Given that Psalm 29 was originally a hymn of praise to Ba'al that David repurposed to praise the Lord instead and Paul repurposed an alter "to an unknown god" in Athens as the jumping-off point for preaching about the true God, I don't think that's a sin in and of itself.
The real problem is that by rejecting the Biblical Feasts, the Church both lost some of the most potent symbolism pointing to Messiah and intentionally rejected any association with its Jewish roots. In the process, they took a body that was supposed to be "neither Jew nor Greek" and turned it into "Greeks only; Jews need not apply."
The “alien in the land” didn’t seek the benefit of the oracles of Yehova. He was lost.
As for Xmas and Ishtar, the original effort by Constantine was the defeat of the Gospel, not the repurposing of his pagan worship. He persecuted those that stuck to the Way. He slaughtered Rabbis and scribes, and he burned manuscripts.
Actually, no. There are two terms for aliens in the land, ger and nakor. The ger is a Gentile who came to the Land as a resident, temporary or otherwise, and gave up idolatry, but who never became a full citizen. (Later rabbis would claim the term meant "proselyte.") The nakor is the openly pagan, and who lacked many of the rights and protections of the ger.
Deuteronomy 14:21 uses both terms: A Jew may give trief to the ger or sell it to the nakor.
Since the Torah prohibits putting a stumbling block in the path of the blind and since the ger at least was in the Land to seek the Lord, the fact that he could be given treif means that Gentile worshippers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not under the same obligation to kashrut as the Jew.
Of course, eating trief or tamei does mean that the Gentile would be ritually unclean (tumah) until he immersed and evening fell. He would have to take more care if he were going up to the Temple to worship. Obviously, that's an academic problem for us at the moment.
Also obviously, in any setting where Jew and Gentile were eating together, the meal would have to be kosher. Therefore, Messianics of Gentile birth have every reason to adopt kashrut to at least some degree, and I think are blessed for doing so. I think all Christians should at least know how to prepare a kosher meal, even if they don't keep it perpetually themselves. But again, there's not an obligation for all Christians to keep kashrut, nor should it be a point of division in the Body--Romans 14 is still in my Bible, after all.
Of course, there is always the presently unanswerable question: How many of these ‘messianics’ are truly gentile?
Until Yehova reveals his dispersed tribes, we can only make educated guesses. All the more reason to get educated as to kashrut.
Take Timothy as a case in point. He didn't even have one generation of separation and his mother was a Jewess, but he still had to be circumcised by Paul in order to be considered Jewish.
Ergo, someone whose family hasn't practiced brit milah or keeping the Torah may have a Jewish ancestor, but can't claim to be Jewish himself unless he deliberately converts. Basically, he's counted as a Gentile until he decides to take the steps to become (again) a Jew, just like someone without a speck of Jewish blood.
For those claiming that 2700 years ago their ancestors were Israelites, but idolaters (another crime worthy of karat) who ceased to practice Torah at all once they were taken and scattered by the Assyrians, it wouldn't matter even if it were true for the above reason.
None of the above is to say that if someone is a Gentile they can't practice Torah, only that there is a perfectly reasonable Scriptural case that they are no more obligated to certain sections pertaining only to Israelites than they are to those sections pertaining only to the priests. And if a Christian who is seeking God's will and striving to keep His Word makes that case to me in regards to kashrut or the Mo'edim, I have no reason to break fellowship with him or boast over him. He is still serving our Lord to the best of his ability and knowledge.
>> “Take Timothy as a case in point. He didn’t even have one generation of separation and his mother was a Jewess, but he still had to be circumcised by Paul in order to be considered Jewish.” <<
That’s not exactly what the word says.
Paul circumcised Timothy to silence the carping of some of the Jews.